Our dear James “Grandpop Jim” McClelland always told us at least he’s “on the right side of the grass” and while it pains us to announce this, he would surely now correct us with a wry smile.
Born in 1931 to wonderful loving Scottish parents in Baltimore, Maryland, Jim was raised with his brother, Arthur, in New York.
At 17, James’ rebellious nature culminated in a drive to the Armed Services Station where his father told him to “pick one.”
Jim served six years in the US Air Force never once complaining about being stationed in Hawaii. After a transfer to Virginia, James took a three-day leave to New York meeting “my Eileen” McGovern, the love of his life, blessing him with 62 years of loving marriage — an institution outlasting the roller rink they met in.
Snowbirds, Jim and Eileen split their time between Ocean Pines, Maryland and The Villages in Florida, never missing happy hour, a steak and baked potato, golf, bridge, or an 8 p.m. PBS Mystery episode.
A grade school friend, Ruffin McMurray, tipped Jim that playing the bagpipes got you invited to lots of parties thus starting Jim’s storied bagpiping career including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, organizing the Baltimore City Pipe Band with Pipe Major Quigg and Jim’s dancing daughter, Mary Ellen, the Ocean City Pipe Band with parades Jim would warn, “blink once and you’ll miss it,” and playing venues as recently as the entrance procession of his granddaughter, Maureen’s wedding in 2017 — a party he would have been invited to even without the pipes.
Jim celebrated countless milestones with Eileen, her sister, Maureen and husband, Jack; Jim’s brother, Arthur and wife, Lillian; Jim’s daughter, Mary Ellen, a nurse, her husband, Mark; their children, Maureen, Austin, Shane and Luke; Maureen and Austin’s spouses, Dylan and Marie, respectively and two soon-to-be baby boys; Jim’s daughter, Maureen, a stay-at-home mom, her husband, John; their children, Shannon, Makayla and Hunter; Shannon’s fiancé, Devin and baby girl, Nataleigh; and Jim’s dear son, Tommy, a man with a heart of gold taken from this world too soon whom James thought of every day.
These children and grandchildren cherish all the Thanksgivings spent with Jim, all the games of Tripoley and poker, all the games and hide and seek and all the calls of “boop boop” James introduced to help him be found quicker.
They cherish McClelland’s home “Mac Theater” and its routine screenings of Jurassic Park on VHS. They cherish the singing call from Jim and Eileen on every birthday and they cherish the endless feasts of silver dollar pancakes Jim tirelessly cooked any morning you were with him — at any age you became.
Jim’s favorite stories included the arrival of Santa Claus via sleigh (pick-up truck arranged by Tommy) surprising 5-year-old granddaughter, Maureen, and the unexpected arrival of the police prompted by a 911 call by granddaughter, Makayla and grandson, Luke (and greeted at the door by Luke dressed as Captain Incredible).
Jim loved his family and life-long friends, George and Mary; Elaine, Emily, Joanne and Jim; his golfing buddies, Joe, Dick, Chuck, Pat, Jack and Bob; and his poker friends, Buzz, Becky and Woody (whom he financially endows by his absence at the poker table and golf course).
Never shy about giving advice, some of his words will be immortalized here for all lucky enough to read it: go to college; education is important; be happy; enjoy life; work hard; never pay full price; credit cards are not a loan; family is always there for you. “Ok, lecture over.”
He always recognized “how wonderful” life around him was, so too was it truly wonderful to have known him.
“It doesn’t get much better than this,” he would say, and they don’t get better than Jim. He will be missed. Whether you hear a bagpipe in the distance or get stuck in a sand trap, think of Jim McClelland and enjoy life.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held at St. John Neumann on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Interment was at Eastern Shore Veterans Cemetery in Hurlock, Maryland on Wednesday, July 11, 2018.
Arrangements are in the care of the Burbage Funeral Home in Berlin. Letters of condolence may be sent to the family at www.burbagefuneralhome.com.